Magoosh GRE

How to Write a Conclusion

| December 28, 2011 | 2 Comments

Once you have a set of arguments in place for the main body of your essay, we can begin to think about writing a conclusion. Because it is the end point of an essay, where you try and summarize your arguments and ideas, a conclusion can be difficult to write.

Before moving onto the conclusion I advise that you refer back to the essay question and essay plan and make sure you have not gone off track. I can remember essays I wrote where after a while I began to veer off trajectory and away from the original essay question, broadening my answer too much. For example, writing about previous oil drilling disasters is fine as long as it is in context with answering the question. But writing too much about a previous incident and relating your arguments to it can be detrimental.

Other checks before proceeding to the conclusion is whether you have been critical. “Critical Analyses” is probably a word you have heard before, but difficult to quite grasp and utilize in a meaaningful way. As I understand, critical analysis refers to logical discussion of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and outright criticism of theory and/or empirical evidence. For example, if a journal claims that “99%” of locals are against multinational oil drillers” you can criticize such a statement in a number of ways. Is the sample size sufficient? Were the questions in the survey unbiased?  Ultimately when criticizing empirical evidence you need to question if the findings are reliable or valid. These two terms are very important in the realm of research methodologies.

Once you have ensured you have an essay structure, stuck to answering the essay question and demonstrated critical analysis skills you should write a conclusion.

A conclusion summarizes your arguments and evaluates them. I often like to amalgamate my strongest arguments and then use my weaker arguments to give an overall contrast and give a definitive answer. It is important that the conclusion does not leave the questionn unanswered. For example you can say: “The evidence shows that political factors have the greatest influence on the implications on the environment following the deep water horizon incident”….That is a definitive answer, you must then explain why and how you came to this conclusion but do not forget to mention the “buts” – other factors like the economic, social and environmental influences which are all at play.

So there you have it, that is my guide to writing a successful essay and I can assure you that if you take in the important points; an essay plan, argument and counter argument, logical critical analyses and evaluation of empirical evidence, you will have a good chance of writing an exceptional essay.

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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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